Chairman of the Turkish Supreme Court Ismail Rustu Cirit delivers a speech during a ceremony at the Supreme Court of Appeals in Ankara, Turkey, on September 5, 2017. (Photo by Anadolu news agency)
A high-ranking Turkish judicial official says almost one-third of the country’s judicial staff have been affiliated to the movement of US-based opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom the Ankara government accuses of having masterminded the failed July 15 coup attempt.
On Tuesday, Chairman of the Supreme Court Ismail Rustu Cirit described it as “discouraging” that members of the Turkish judicial institution have had a role in acts of terror.
“There is nothing more confidence-shaking for the society than to see almost one-third of judges and prosecutors, who are supposed to be entirely trustworthy, have been involved in terrorist activities,” Cirit commented.
During the July 15 botched putsch last year, a faction of the Turkish military declared that it had seized control of the country and the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was no more in charge. The attempt was, however, suppressed a few hours later.
Ankara has since accused Gulen of having orchestrated the coup. The opposition figure is also accused of being behind a long-running campaign to topple the government via infiltrating the country’s institutions, particularly the army, police and the Judiciary. 
Additionally, the Ankara government has outlawed his movement, and has branded it as the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO). 
Gulen has denounced the “despicable putsch” and reiterated that he had no role in it.
“Accusations against me related to the coup attempt are baseless and politically motivated slanders,” he said.
The 76-year-old cleric has also called on Ankara to end its “witch hunt” of his followers, a move he said is aimed at “weeding out anyone it deems disloyal to President Erdogan and his regime.”
Turkish officials have frequently called on their US counterparts to extradite Gulen, but their demands have not been taken heed of.
Turkey, which remains in a state of emergency since the coup, has been engaged in suppressing the media and opposition groups suspected to have played a role in the failed coup.
Tens of thousands of people have been arrested in Turkey on suspicion of having links to Gulen and the failed coup. More than 110,000 others, including military staff, civil servants and journalists have been sacked or suspended from work over the same accusations.
The international community and rights groups have been highly critical of the Turkish president over the massive dismissals and the crackdown.

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